Peoples Academy and Morrisville soccer club donate balls and cleats to African secondary school.

Jim Eisenhardt

 

My recent trip to Africa opened my eyes to a world of different cultures and vastly different life styles.  In a world of mud huts, red earth roads, and an abundance of wild animals, I was able to step into a new and exciting land rich in ways but deprived of many of the simple things we take for granted here at home, such as food, clean water, electricity and indoor plumbing.  

 

On my trip, I brought soccer balls and soccer shoes, donated by Peoples Academy High School and the Morrisville Soccer Club, to the Mpeketoni boy’s soccer team in Kenya.  Peoples Academy graduate and Peace Corps volunteer Eric Eisenhardt, serving as a teacher in Mpeketoni, Kenya, helped to arrange the soccer donation.   In addition to his teaching duties, Eric has volunteered to help coach the boy’s secondary school soccer team.  With only one soccer ball for the team and very few players having soccer shoes, Eric reached back to our local community of Morrisville and with the help of Peoples academy athletic director Jason Michalidis and Tom Stames of the Morrisville soccer club we were able to donate thirty soccer balls and two dozen soccer shoes.

 

Since the soccer season in Kenya had been over for more than a month and the soccer field had not been used, the grass had grown to over 3 feet high.  The players came to the field the day before my arrival to hand cut the grass.  The entire team came to ensure the pitch would be ready for my arrival. 

 

The day I arrived I was greeted by the Mpeketoni secondary Principal Mr.Hirbi and given a tour of the school.  Once the players had arrived Eric took the opportunity to deliver the balls and shoes to the coach Mr. Kioko and Mr. Hirbi.  The Kenyan boys sat as I explained where I was from and how pleased I was to be able to bring them the balls and shoes.  I explained to the players how back home in Morrisville, Vermont it was freezing cold and snowing.  With Kenya located on the equator and the local temperatures fluctuating from hot to really hot, the boys could not understand why anyone would want to live in such conditions.   We spoke of the upcoming world cup, which is coming to Africa in June 2010.  The Kenyan boys keep up with world football, especially the English premiere league and champions league where many African players play.  Their favorite players and teams were similar to the boys back home in Morrisville; Drogbra, Mesi, Fabregas, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.  After answering questions we then decided to split up and play a scrimmage.

 

It was interesting for me when once the teams were split up and the scrimmage began how the players could tell who was on which team as none of the players had on similar colors.  I asked coach Mr. Kioko how the players could tell who was on each team. I was told by Mr. Kioko “Kenyan players just know, just as the Kenyans are able to distinguish which of the 100’s of roaming goats and chickens belong to whom they are able to know which of the players on the field is on each team.”  This was not very helpful for me and with summer temperatures in the mid 90’s and humidity high it wasn’t long before I needed a substitution.  The heat and humidity had taken its toll, so I decided after playing briefly to sit back drink water and take pictures of the action. The Kenyan boys would play for over an hour and a half and in that time I never saw any player stop for water. 

 

It is difficult to put in words how special the trip was for me.  I was able to make a special connection with a Kenyan boys soccer team, and learned a little about how soccer brings the world into their lives.  The boys are very excited to have the world cup coming to Africa in 2010! The Kenyan team and coach would like to send a special thank you to both Peoples Academy and the Morrisville soccer club for the generous donations!

 

You can log on to the Morrisville Soccer website to see additional pictures.